When you work in some African countries you get used to hearing about the devastating affects of HIV/AIDS. Very few familes are not touched by death and illness from HIV/AIDS. I was sat at lunch during a workshop in Kadoma, Zimbabwe and the two people I was having lunch with were affected . One had lost both parents to AIDS and the other , from a big family, where 4 out of the 10 of his brothers and sisters in his family had died of AIDS.
While walking through a village in Uganda there was no one alive between the ages of 18-40 and grandparents were the only ones left looking after their grandchildren.
also I remember people being infected by HIV in Guyana through visiting a hospital and being given untested and untreated blood products. The hospital could not afford the ‘less than a dollar’ testing strips.
In several countries the teaching force has been decimated by AIDS, losing experienced and trained teachers and being replaced by untrained teachers.
So although WORLD AIDS DAY 2012 has a slogan -“Getting to zero: zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths” we still have some way to go.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that infects cells of the immune system, destroying or impairing their function. As the infection progresses, the immune system becomes weaker, and the person becomes more susceptible to infections. The most advanced stage of HIV infection is acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). It can take 10-15 years for an HIV-infected person to develop AIDS; antiretroviral drugs can slow down the process even further.
HIV is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse (anal or vaginal), transfusion of contaminated blood, sharing of contaminated needles, and between a mother and her infant during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
Some more facts and links from the site for World Aids Day
Why is World AIDS Day important?
Around 100,000 are currently living with HIV in the UK and globally an estimated 34 million people have HIV. More than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007 have died from the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
Today, many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. But despite this, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV. World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the public and Government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.
What should I do on World AIDS Day?
World AIDS Day is an opportunity for you to learn the facts about HIV and put your knowledge into action. Find out how much you know by taking our online quiz: Are you HIV aware? Test your knowledge and awareness by taking the quiz and act aware by passing the quiz on and sharing it with your friends on Twitter and Facebook.
If you understand how HIV is transmitted, how it can be prevented, and the reality of living with HIV today – you can use this knowledge to take care of your own health and the health of others, and ensure you treat everyone living with HIV fairly, and with respect and understanding. Click here to find out the facts.
You can also show your support for people living with HIV on World AIDS Day by wearing a red ribbon, the international symbol of HIV awareness.
World AIDS Day is also a great opportunity to raise money for NAT (National AIDS Trust) and show your support for people living with HIV. If you feel inspired to hold an event, bake sale or simply sell red ribbons, click here to get started. If you’d like to see what other events are taking place — click here and find out more.
But what about after World AIDS Day?
Although World AIDS Day is a great opportunity to get the public talking about HIV and fundraise, we need to remember the importance of raising awareness of HIV all year round. That’s why NAT has launched HIVaware — a fun, interactive new website which provides all the information everyone should know about HIV. Why not use what you have learnt on World AIDS Day to Act Aware throughout the year and remember, you can fundraise at any time of year too — NAT is always here to give you suggestions and ideas.